Day: May 9, 2018

Hello Bethel: Letter to the Editor

Vote NO, TOO HIGH in Bethel. Offering only a minor adjustment after a 1,916 to 525 Too High verdict, Bethel’s “second chance budget” leaves the mill rate just about flat year to year. But, in a revaluation year; the Town Assessor reporting fully 56% of residential units experiencing an increase in assessments, “flat” just isn’t good enough.

Taking 4% more in property tax than the amount collected last year, this Town Budget is still way higher than the rate of inflation.
Many taxpayers will still suffer higher taxes. For some, there’ll be hundreds of dollars in increases. Each tax-payer needs to check their own situation.

Rejecting this budget might finally convince the Town to restore the “capital non-recurring” line in the budget back to what the Board of Selectmen first recommended, and that would be an additional reduction of $275,000 only if this budget fails on May 10th.
With that additional reduction, the mill rate would actually go DOWN (imagine that) to about 32.74, and the “typical” property would get a bill for about $30 LESS.  The savings for higher value homes would be better. The savings could be a co-pay for a doctor visit or several prescriptions, or maybe the price of food for dinner.

Ask yourself, “Who is better able to decide how to spend YOUR tax savings?” The answer is clear; you are better able to decide, and not the Town! Give Bethel a third chance to get this right! Vote NO, Too High, once again!

Bill Hillman

Hello Bethel: Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

We ask Bethel voters to approve the 2018-2019 Town Operating and Capital Budgets adopted at the April 27 Town Meeting. Voting YES completes the process that began with approval of the Education Budget in the earlier referendum as the approved Education budget cannot be used until the Town Operating Budget is also approved.

The overall budget (Town plus Education) increases spending by 2.31%, but Grand List growth, driven by people discovering Bethel as a great place to live, results in a decrease in the mill rate to 32.87. There is added funding for road repair, an additional police officer and improved Senior Center services. Importantly, the budget also provides additional funds so the Town “Pays Cash” for required purchases rather than “Using the Credit Card” thereby avoiding debt and thousands in interest expense.

The 2018-2019 budget is right for Bethel today and is a critical first step in a multi-year, multi-step plan to guide Bethel through 2022, when the school renovation debt is expected to be incurred. The sequencing of events is as follows:

* Step 1: May 10, 2018, pass the 2018-2019 budget, begin “Paying Cash”

* Step 2: June 2018, use available Fund Balance to reduce the $10.5 million of short-term debt

* Step 3: July/August 2018, complete the Police Station as specified in the referendum (the Police Station does not impact the 2018-2019 budget)

* Step 4: late 2019, issue long-term bonds to match fund the Police Station and pay-off remaining short-term debt

* Step 5: Manage Debt Service through 2022 to create the capacity necessary to take on school renovation debt in a way that minimizes the impact to Bethel taxpayers.

Passing the 2018-2019 budget is critical to achieving the financial strategy that will make Bethel the example of municipal financial foresight.

Pleases vote YES on Thursday, May 10.

Bob Manfreda (Chairman, Bethel Board of Finance)
Dalene Foster
Robert Palmer
Wendy Smith
Claudia Stephan

Hello Bethel: Construction of New Police Station Voters Approve Additional Funds at Special Town Meeting

A Special Town Meeting to vote on additional funding for the new police station took place on May 3. The amount under consideration was $888,678.

The General Purpose Room at the Municipal Center was full when the meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm. In quick succession, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the meeting notice was read, and the moderator (First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker) was nominated. The floor was then opened to public comment, at which point long-time resident and former Selectman Bob Legnard approached the podium. Acknowledging that he may not be the most popular person in the room for what he was about to say, he gave his opinion that discussion over the amount of additional funds for construction of police station as well as the reasons for the budget overruns had already taken place in previous meetings. He said that the purpose of the Special Town Meeting that evening was to vote on those funds, and he “called the question”.

“Calling the question” is a motion under Robert’s Rules of Order, a manual of parliamentary procedure that outlines how municipal meetings are run. Essentially, the motion of “calling the question” is a vote on whether to vote on the topic at hand, thus precluding further discussion.

Legnard’s motion was seconded and approved by the room. Moderator Knickerbocker then asked the attendees to vote on the actual question at hand: approval of an additional $888,678 for the construction project. The room overwhelmingly voted in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 7:08 p.m.